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Electronic prescribing to be piloted in integrated urgent care

21 December 2017

A pilot use of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) in selected integrated urgent care settings has been launched, NHS Digital1 has announced.

This will mean that patients seeking care out of hours or in urgent care settings can have their prescriptions sent directly to a pharmacy of their choice, rather than relying on paper prescriptions.

The service will free up time for doctors and other health care workers issuing prescriptions and for pharmacists dispensing those prescriptions, meaning there is more time for patient care.

Patients can choose to have their prescriptions dispensed at any suitable community pharmacy. Pharmacists and their teams should be aware that they could receive an electronic prescription from an integrated urgent care prescriber involved in the pilot and that they can dispense it in the same way as any other EPS prescription.

Benefits of EPS in integrated urgent care:

  • More efficient processing of prescriptions and fewer referrals to other professionals and settings, saving time and resource

Faster processing of prescriptions from NHS 111 and out-of-hours services. Reducing the demand on those services enabling them to either treat more urgent cases or to spend more time treating each patient.

  • Improved patient experience and outcome

Patient experience will improve as they will receive their prescription early on in an urgent care journey, reducing the number of interventions and journeys that the patient has to make.

  • More face-to-face consultations freed up

A patient who requires nothing more than a short-term supply of an existing medication will no longer need to take up a face-to-face consultation with a clinician in urgent or emergency care.

The pilot has been given the green light after extensive systems testing by NHS Digital. It involves several prescribers in different integrated urgent care settings in the London area and will run until early in the new year.

Work is underway to finalise plans to roll out this service across all integrated urgent care settings starting in the new year, following a review of the pilot.

Initially, only sites running Advanced Adastra system (which accounts for the majority of integrated care settings) will have the necessary functionality.

NHS Digital is working with other suppliers to develop this functionality in their systems.

The Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) has been rolled out across GP practices since 2009. Due to increasing pressures on integrated urgent care services2, NHS Digital has been asked by NHS England to work with integrated urgent care system suppliers to implement the ability to prescribe electronically.

Integrated urgent care includes NHS 111, GP out of hours services, Clinical Assessment Services (CAS), Walk-in Centres, Minor Injuries Units and Urgent Care Centres.

Richard Ashcroft, programme director for digital medicines at NHS Digital, said:

"This is an important development which will bring significant benefit to patients in integrated urgent care, building on the time and money that EPS has already saved across primary care

"Rolling this additional service out will relieve some of the pressures faced by out-of-hours services such as 111, particularly during winter months, and will improve the experience for patients."


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1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2016/17 financial year, NHS Digital published 292 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

2. When using this term, we are referring to: NHS 111, GP out of hours services, Clinical Assessment Services (CAS), Walk-in Centres, Minor Injuries Units and Urgent Care Centres.

3. The following functions are not available in integrated urgent care:

- Repeat prescribing, and eRD - Electronic Repeat Dispensing

- Post-dating prescriptions

- The ability to change the patient's nomination

- The ability to search or select an alternative to a community pharmacy, such as a distance selling pharmacy or a Dispensing Appliance Contractor (DAC)

- Prescription Token Printing

- Item level cancellation

- Electronic Prescriptions for more than five items (this may be reviewed following the FoT)

4. For media enquiries please contact or telephone 0300 30 33 888.